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Burkina Faso: the trial of the assassination of Thomas Sankara resumes in Ouagadougou


Barely opened on October 11, the trial of the alleged perpetrators of Thomas Sankara, former president of Burkina Faso, resumed on Monday. A two-week adjournment had been requested by defense lawyers in order to better study the case. Blaise Compaoré, the main accused, will not participate. The former president, exiled in Côte d’Ivoire, will be tried in absentia.

The trial of the alleged perpetrators of the assassination of Thomas Sankara, killed at the age of 37 during the coup d’état of October 15, 1987 in Ouagadougou, begins again Monday, October 25. It had started briefly two weeks earlier before being adjourned.

Two defense lawyers had requested a postponement of the trial for one month “in the name of the manifestation of the truth”, arguing that they had too little time to study “the 20,000 documents in the file”. Urbain Méda, president of the Ouagadougou military court, had agreed to suspend the proceedings, but for a period of only two weeks. From now on, the Burkinabè justice must look for good on this major file in the history of the “country of upright men”.

Fourteen people must be tried but two are absent, and not the least: Blaise Compaoré, the former president of Burkina Faso (1987-2014) and friend of Thomas Sankara, and Hyacinthe Kafando, former adjutant of the guard of Compaoré. The first is suspected of having ordered the assassination of the one who was nicknamed the “African Che Guevara”. The second is accused of having been at the head of the commando which killed 12 people on October 15, 1987, during a meeting at the headquarters of the National Revolutionary Council (CNR) in the capital. Driven from power by a popular uprising on October 31, 2014, Blaise Compaoré, 70, found refuge in Côte d’Ivoire, a country of which he obtained nationality. On October 11, before the adjournment of the trial, Mariam Sankara, the widow of Thomas Sankara, accused him of having organized “a crime, a premeditated murder”, and demanded that he appear before the military court.

“It is he who took advantage of the situation. We cannot say that he is innocent. (…) He should come and answer before the Burkinabè jurisdiction. The culture of impunity and political violence must which is rampant in some African countries, despite the facade of democracy, is finally stopped.


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